Mexico 30, 7th May 2004

In the morning I went back to the church on top of the hill to admire the view and then continued on to the Grutas de San Christobel, a huge high cave, with a walkway running back around 400 metres. Lots of stalactites.

Back in the town I went to a couple of small museums, met up with a Japanese man taking a year off University studies, we wandered over to the market and took a delicious and very cheap (25 pesos) fried fish lunch. It came on to rain heavily, at some time it's rained every day I've been here, it's actually quite cool. Strange that only about 100 miles away at Agua Azul I was absolutely melting. My plan was later in the afternoon to visit Casa Na Bolom, now a museum, guest house, and research centre for the study of local Mayan cultures. There's a tour at 11.30 am and 4.30 pm, but seems today it's closed. No problem, I'll go tomorrow.

I read my books and decided it was time to get a laminated colour photocopy of my driver licence. Some police I'm told have a tendency to hold your driver licence until you part with lots of cash following trumped up charges, better to have a copy to hand so there's no problem if you lose it. There's copy shops on almost every corner but I only found two making colour copies and both their machines were out of order! I returned to my 20 pesos parking spot and worked on the files to update my web site.

In the morning I gave upon the hunt for a colour copy and used a print from a scanned copy that I have on file. It's not so good as a real colour copy but hopefully it will work. The laminating only cost 3 pesos!

I went to Na Bolom, and discovered that the 11.30 tour is in Spanish. The English tour is at 4.30. So I did my own tour. The information in the museum was fascinating and I had more time to look than I would have had on a tour. I was sorry when I'd finished it all. I bought their interactive CD which on first glance seems to be superb information a but unfortunately the presentation is very dated. Things move so quickly now in this technology age that a presentation such as on the disk soon gets out of date.

I headed off to look at a couple of typical Indian villages as the guide books recommend. I seem to have caught the middle of some ancient ritual. In one church there were lots of people around, and I would estimate around 3000 candles in that one church. I don't know what makes today a special day. Every 15 minutes or so there was a huge explosion from a firework presumably to drive away evil spirits.

I drove on towards Chiapa de Corzo, one of my guidebooks suggested a cave and waterfall at El Chorreadero was a worthwhile small detour on the way. I got there just as they were closing, they said no problem to park for the night and I would not be disturbed since they closed off the road. Soon after the four people working closed the cafe there and started to walk down the road. It's almost a mile to the road junction. Least I could do was to give them a lift to the spot where they locked a wire across the road!

Next morning the cave was OK. Most people go to swim in the lower pools, but if you go in past a prohibited no entry sign, with flashlight to hand, you find a waterfall inside the cave, which is pretty impressive. It looked very tricky to climb up the waterfall to follow the river further back in the cave, but I suppose it has been done. Here's the waterfall out of the cave.

And here's the view from inside the cave.

I can't give you a photo of the waterfall inside the cave, it's too far away for the flash, and not enough light on the falls to get a picture without the flash.

However, they do have some vultures (I think he was waiting for me to take his picture)

and some interesting tree roots.

In Chiapa I looked at a couple of not very interesting museums and then a not very interesting ruin.

Maybe I'm not being fair because I got ripped off on the entry fee! It is however older than most of the ruins I've seen, and it's situation cannot help. Being near to a comparatively recent town will mean that any fallen stones will have been recycled into newer buildings. There is actually another ruin, part of the same complex, free to view, in the centre of the dual carriageway running around the town.

I got talked to for ages by a beautiful and charming 51 year old lady supermarket owner, a lawyer by profession, who was keen to practice her English. She's been happily married for 30 years she told me and couldn't understand how it could be that I wasn't presently married! No way!

Notwithstanding all the foregoing, Chiapa de Corzo remains one of my favourite little towns.

I went to look at the view points above the Canyon del Sumidero. On the way into the National Park I asked the rangers if I could park my van here for the night. No problem they said. I gave them a load of beads for their daughters and drove up the road to see the views.

The river is 3000 ft below. The white stuff at the top of the picture is cloud. Here's a view of Tuxtla taken on the way back down.

I parked by the gate and realised I was in the grounds of the local fire station. A few firemen came to chat, they asked was it me giving beads to the rangers? I said yes and was too dumb to catch the hint. I'll give them some in the morning. Heck, I've still got a ton left.

Best regards

David Barker


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